UNSW Solar – uni to go fully solar powered

UNSW Solar has taken another huge step forward – the University of New South Wales has signed a 15-year corporate PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy to become 100% solar powered, thanks to Maoneng‘s Sunraysia solar plant.

UNSW Solar 

The Sunraysia solar farm, which will be Australia’s biggest solar farm, is planned to commence construction in April or May of this year, at a cost of $275 million. It will generate at least 530,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year, of which UNSW will purchase 124,000 – almost a quarter. They signed an agreement on December 14, 2017, which will run for 15 years. A three year ‘retail firming’ contract was also signed with Origin, as the electricity retailer. This will help manage intermittency of solar production.

UNSW Solar - UNSW President Ian Jacobs (source: newsroom.unsw.edu.au)
UNSW Solar – UNSW President Ian Jacobs (source: newsroom.unsw.edu.au)

UNSW president and vice chancellor Ian Jacobs discussed the partnership with Fairfax, advising that it would comprise a key part of making UNSW’s entire operation energy carbon neutral by 2020.

“Over the past six months, UNSW has collaborated with our contract partners Maoneng and Origin, to develop a Solar PPA model that leads the way in renewable energy procurement and reflects our commitment to global impact outlined in our 2025 strategy,” he said.

Mr Jacobs wouldn’t provide specifics on pricing, but did note that it will be helpful to UNSW in a financial sense:

“It’s a highly competitive agreement financially,” he said.

“The Solar PPA arrangement will allow UNSW to secure carbon emission-free electricity supplies at a cost which is economically and environmentally attractive when compared to fossil fuel-sourced supplies.”

Energy Action, a company who assisted during the tender by with energy market analysis, noted that the PPA would help UNSW have greater clarity on their future electricity spends and not be as vulnerable to electricity price fluctuations:

“This agreement provides UNSW with a direct line of sight over the source of renewables supply, reduced emissions, and greater certainty around prices over the next 15 years,” Energy Action chief executive Ivan Slavich said.

Kelly Davies, Senior Consultant at Norton Rose Fulbright, was quoted on the university press release as saying: “UNSW is a true leader of innovation. The PPA market has been extremely dynamic in the last 12 months and deals like UNSW’s have been critical in driving real change in the way universities and other users procure energy.”

UNSW have also been the recipient of a few solar grants from ARENA over the past years so the idea of them using renewable energy to research and upgrade renewable energy is certainly a palatable one and it’s amazing to see so much energy from the Sunraysia Solar Plant already accounted for! 

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Printed Batteries on Printed Solar coming to market.

Battery Storage company Printed Energy have bought a new technology which will print thin and flexible screen-printed batteries over the top of thin and flexible screen printed solar panels.

Printed Energy – Printed Solar – Printed Batteries!

Printed Batteries on Printed Solar Prototype
Printed Batteries on Printed Solar Prototype (source: theaustralian.com.au)

Brisbane-based Printed Energy are being backed by Sunset Energy.

Printed Energy are an investee company within the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund, which has been created in collaboration with UQ and UNSW. According to The Australian, they’ve provided $1.5 million towards the project – a printed solar battery / panel is a huge step forwards. The $12 million R&D project has also been the beneficiary of $2 million grant from the Cooperative Research Centres Projects scheme. According to RenewEconomyNth Degree (who have a USP of “printing the impossible”) developed the IP for the battery storage, but it was onsold to Printed Energy as they are looking to focus their energy on printed LED technology.

Trevor St Baker, founder of ERM Power and the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund, was quoted as saying that the application for this technology has vast ramifications for solar technology: “Unlike traditional batteries, the printed battery can be any shape required for the specific application, such as wearable electronics and medical and healthcare products such as skin treatment patches,” he said. In a market where battery tech has been slow to adapt, this could be a major step forward.

Research Funding

Printed Energy were involved with UQ Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering and Innovation Director Professor Chris Greig and researchers from the University of New South Wales in efforts to forward the research, as the University of Queensland secured $3.85 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P).

Professor Greig stated that “Our mission is to foster and facilitate advances in science and engineering which are technologically, economically and socially sustainable. This project fits the bill perfectly and the range of applications is probably only limited by our imaginations.”

Watch this space to see how this exciting new technology progresses!

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